Thursday, December 30, 2010

Allan Tibbels: Treasure in earthen jars

Allan Tibbels. White man. Middle-class. Quadriplegic. Christian.

What's unusual was not what he was, but what he did. In 1986 Allan Tibbels abandoned his privileged lifestyle and moved into Baltimore's inner-city Sandtown neighbourhood, and changed the lives of one of the city's most violent and poverty-stricken areas. For 21 years he opened his home to his neighbours, shared their life, and through Habitat for Humanity gave a roof over the heads of several hundred people. Tibbels died of multiple organ failure early June. He was 55.

Author Chris Rice in a post said Tibbels "showed us what peace looked like."

Brad Greenberg of Get Religion described "how the remarkable strength of a crippled man could remake an inner-city neighbourhood."

Tibbels became wheelchair-bound after an accident 25 years ago, but though he lost so much of the mobility we take for granted, he never lost hope nor wasted his life.

Video from Clip Syndicate

More: Read how Tibbels's involvement with Habitat for Humanity transformed a community.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa is a Brand

Here's a bit of seasonal laugh to end the year with. For those who are familiar with brands and corporate IDs, this should tickle. I stumbled on it at NOTCOT.ORG (which is one cool, addictive random visual feast). Click on the image to to go Santa Brand Book.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

27 dead in tour bus crash

Another day, another bus accident. This time a double-decker tour bus full of Thai tourists, in what is reported as the worst road accident in Malaysia.

The question that came to my mind when I read the news was, should double-decker buses be allowed up the winding Camerons road anyway? And, were double-decker buses even designed for long distance travel? It seems to me that these buses whose origins date back to the 1950s were manufactured for in-city transport in London and primarily for short commutes.

The Star has a list of major bus accidents dating back to 2003 as follows:

Dec 17: Four prison officers killed after a Prisons Department bus plunged into a ravine along the hilly and winding Tambunan-Kota Kinabalu trunk road.

Oct 29: Seven passengers, aged between 13 and 28, killed after their bus skidded and overtured at KM38 Genting Sempah, while enroute to Kuala Lumpur. It was later revealed the driver of the bus had no valid driving licence.

Oct 10: Thirteen killed in bus crash along KM223 of the North-South Expressway (NSE), near the Simpang Ampat toll plaza.

Dec 25, 2009: Ten killed after a double-decker express bus skidded and hit a road divider at KM272.8 of the NSE, after the Ipoh Selatan toll plaza (northbound).

Dec 7, 2008: Ten dead after an express bus skided and overturned at KM146.5 of the NSE, near Pagoh, Johor.

Aug 13, 2007: One of the worst road crashes in Malaysian history claims 22 lives. The bus they victims were in crashed at KM229 of the NSE, near the Bukit Gantang rest area.

March 9, 2007: Six killed after an express bus plunged into a ravine at KM254, NSE, near the Sg Perak rest and recreation area.

July 30, 2006: Eleven pilgrims to the annual St Anne's Feast in Penang were killed when their chartered bus overturned at KM160.8 of the NSE, near the Jawi interchange at Nibong Tebal.

Nov 23, 2003: Fourteen killed when an express bus collides with another bus at KM63, Jalan Lipis-Merapoh near the Pahang-Kelantan border.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Razaleigh: "We are less free."

"Today, we are no longer as united as we were then.
We are also less free. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
It takes free people to have
the psychological strength to overcome

the confines of a racialised worldview.
It takes free people to overcome those politicians
bent on hanging on to power gained by racialising
every feature of our life including our football teams."
Tengku Razaleigh

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's issues a wake-up call on 31 July 2010 at the Fourth Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit at the Nikko Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

I have played some small role in the life of this nation, but having been on the wrong side of one or two political fights with the powers that be, I am not as close to the young people of this country as I would hope to be. History, and the 8 o’clock news, are written by the victors. In recent years the government’s monopoly of the media has been destroyed by the technology revolution.

You could say I was also a member of the United Kingdom and Eire Council (UKEC) for Malaysian students. Well I was, except that belonged to the predecessor of the UKEC by more than 50 years, the Malayan Students Union of the UK and Eire. I led this organisation in 1958/59. I was then a student of Queen’s University in Belfast, as well as at Lincoln’s Inn. In a rather cooler climate than Kota Bharu’s. We campaigned for decolonisation. We demonstrated in Trafalgar Square and even in Paris. We made posters and participated in British elections.

Your invitation to participate in the 4th Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit (MSLS) was prefaced by a an essay which calls for an intellectually informed activism. I congratulate you on this. The Youth of today, you note, “will chart the future of Malaysia.” You say you “no longer want to be ignored and leave the future of our Malaysia at the hands of the current generation”. You “want to grab the bull by the horns… and have a say in where we go as a society and as a nation”.

I feel the same, actually. A lot of Malaysians feel the same. They are tired of being ignored and talked down to.

Just do it

You are right. The present generation in power has let Malaysia down. But also you cite two things as testimony of the importance of youth and of student activism to this country, the election results of 2008 and “the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of the role of youth in the development of the country”.

So perhaps you are a little way yet from thinking for yourselves. The first step in “grabbing the bull by the horns” is not to require the endorsement of the Prime Minister, or any Minister, for your activism. Politicians are not your parents. They are your servants. You don’t need a government slogan coined by a foreign PR agency to wrap your project in. You just go ahead and do it.

When I was a student our newly formed country was already a leader in the post-colonial world. We were sought out as a leader in the Afro-Asian Conference which inaugurated the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77. The Afro-Asian movement was led by such luminaries as Zhou En-lai, Nehru, Kwame Nkrumah, Soekarno. Malaysians were seen as moderate leaders capable of mediating between these more radical leaders and the West. We were known for our moderation, good sense and reliability.

We were a leader in the Islamic world as ourselves and as we were, without our leaders having to put up false displays of piety. His memory has been scrubbed out quite systematically from our national consciousness; so you might not know this or much else about him, but it was Tengku Abdul Rahman who established our leadership in the Islamic world by coming up with the idea of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) and making it happen. Under his leadership, Malaysia led the way in taking up the anti-apartheid cause in the Commonwealth and in the United Nations, resulting in South Africa’s expulsion from these bodies.

Here was a man at ease with himself, who made it a policy goal that Malaysia be “a happy country”. He loved sport and encouraged sporting achievement among Malaysians. He was owner of many a fine race horse. He called a press conference with his stewards when his horse won at the Melbourne Cup. He had nothing to hide because his great integrity in service was clear to all. Now we have religious and moral hypocrites who cheat, lie and steal in office, who propagate an ideologically shackled education system for all Malaysians while they send their own kids to elite academies in the West.

The glory days

Speaking of football. You’re too young to have experienced the Merdeka Cup, which Tunku started. We had a respectable side in the 1960s and 70s. Teams from across Asia would come to play in Kuala Lumpur, teams such as South Korea and Japan, whom we defeated routinely. We were one of the better sides in Asia. We won the bronze medal at the Asian games in 1974 and qualified for the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Today our FIFA ranking is 157 out of 203 countries. That puts us in the lowest quartile, below Maldives (149), the smallest country in Asia, with just 400,000 people living about 1.5 metres above sea level who have to worry that their country may soon be swallowed up by climate change. Here in Asean we are behind Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, whom we used to dominate, and one spot above basketball-playing Philippines.

The captain of our illustrious 1970s side was Soh Chin Aun. Arumugam, Isa Bakar, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Mokhtar Dahari were heroes whose names rolled off the tongues of our schoolchildren as they copied them on the school field. It wasn’t about being the best in the world, but about being passionate and united and devoted to the game.

It was the same in badminton, except at one time we were the best in the world. I remember Wong Peng Soon, the first Asian to win the All-England Championship, who then just dominated it throughout the 1950s. Back home every kid who played badminton in every little kampung wanted to call himself Wong Peng Soon. There was no tinge of anybody identifying themselves exclusively as Chinese, Malays, Indians. Peng Soon was a Malaysian hero. Just like each of our football heroes. Now we do not have an iota of that feeling. Where has it all gone?

I don’t think it’s mere nostalgia that makes us think there was a time when the sun shone more brightly upon Malaysia. I bring up sport because it has been a mirror of our more general performance as a nation. When we were at ease with who we were and didn’t need slogans to do our best together, we did well. When race and money entered our game, we declined. The same applies to our political and economic life

Soon after independence we were already a highly successful developing country. We had begun the infrastructure building and diversification of our economy that would be the foundation for further growth. We carried out an import-substitution programme that stimulated local productive capacity. From there we started an infrastructure build-up which enabled a diversification of the economy leading to rapid industria-lisation. We carried out effective programmes to raise rural income and help the landless with programmes such as Felda. Our achievements in achieving growth with equity were recognised around the world. Our peer group in economic development were South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and we led the pack. I remember we used to send technical consultants to advise the South Koreans.

… and then the slump

By the late 1990s, however, we had fallen far behind this group and were competing with Thailand and Indonesia. Today, according to the latest World Investment Report, FDI (Foreign Development Investment) into Malaysia is at a 20-year low. We are entering the peer group of Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines as an investment destination. Thailand, despite a month-long siege of the capital, attracted more FDI than we did last year. Indonesia and Vietnam far outperform us, not as a statistical blip but consistently. Soon we shall have difficulty keeping up with the Philippines. This, I believe, is called relegation. If we take into account FDI outflow, the picture is even more depressing. Last year we received US$1.38 billion in investments but US$ 8.04 billion flowed out. We are the only country in Southeast Asia which has suffered net FDI outflow. I am not against outward investment. It can be a good thing for the country. But an imbalance on this scale indicates capital flight, not mere investment overseas.

Without a doubt, Malaysia is slipping. Billions have been looted from this country, and billions more are being siphoned out as our entire political structure crumbles. Yet we are gathered here in comfort, in a country that still seems to ‘work.’ Most of the time. This is due less to good management than to the extraordinary wealth of this country. You were born into a country of immense resources both natural, cultural and social. We have been wearing down this advantage with mismanagement and corruption. With lies, tall tales and theft. We have a political class unwilling or unable to address the central issue of the day because they have grown fat and comfortable with a system built on lies and theft.

No endorsements needed

It is time to wake up. That waking up can begin here, right here, at this conference. Not tomorrow or the day after but today. So let me, as I have the honour of opening this conference, suggest the following:

Overcome the urge to have our hopes for the future endorsed by the Prime Minister. He will have retired, and I’ll be long gone when your future arrives. The shape of your future is being determined now.

* Resist the temptation to say “in line with” when we do something. Your projects, believe it or not, don’t have to be in line with any government campaign for them to be meaningful. You don’t need to polish anyone’s apple. Just get on with what you plan to do.
* Do not put a lid on certain issues as “sensitive”because someone said they are. Or it is against the Social Contract. Or it is “politicisation”. You don’t need to have your conversation delimited by the hyper-sensitive among us. Sensitivity is often a club people use to hit each other with. Reasoned discussion of contentious issues builds understanding and trust. Test this idea.
* It’s not “conservative” or “liberal” to ask for an end to having politics, economic policy, education policy and everything and the kitchen sink determined by race. It’s called growing up.

Don’t let the politicians you have invited here talk down to you. Don’t let them tell you how bright and “exuberant” you are, that you are the future of the nation, etc. If you close your eyes and flow with their flattery you have safely joined the caravan, a caravan taking the nation down a sink hole. If they tell you the future is in your hands, kindly request that they hand that future over first. Ask them how come the youngest member of our cabinet is 45 and is full of discredited hacks? Our Merdeka cabinet had an average age of below 30. You’re not the first generation to be bright. Mine wasn’t too stupid. But you could be the first generation of students and young graduates in 50 years to push this nation through a major transformation. And it is a transformation we need desperately.

You will be told that much is expected of you, much has been given to you, and so forth. This is all true. Actually much has also been stolen from you. Over the last 25 years, much of the immense wealth generated by our productive people and our vast resources has been looted. This was supposed to have been your patrimony. The uncomplicated sense of belonging fully, wholeheartedly, unreservedly, to this country, in all its diversity – that has been taken from you. Our sense of ourselves as Malaysians, a free and united people, has been replaced by a tale of racial strife and resentment that continues to haunt us. The thing is, this tale is false.

The most precious thing you have been deprived of has been your history. Someone of my generation finds it hard to describe what must seem like a completely different country to you now. Malaysia was not born in strife but in unity. Our independence was achieved through a demonstration of unity by the people in supporting a multiracial government led by Tengku Abdul Rahman. That show of unity, demonstrated first through the municipal elections of 1952 and then through the Alliance’s landslide victory in the elections of 1955, showed that the people of Malaya were united in wanting their freedom. We surprised the British, who thought we could not do this.

Abolish oppressive laws

Today, we are no longer as united as we were then. We are also less free. I don’t think this is a coincidence. It takes free people to have the psychological strength to overcome the confines of a racialised worldview. It takes free people to overcome those politicians bent on hanging on to power gained by racialising every feature of our life including our football teams.

Hence while you are at this conference, let me argue, that as an absolute minimum, we should call for the repeal of unjust and much abused Acts of Parliament which are reversals of freedoms that we won at Merdeka.

I ask you in joining me in calling for the repeal of the ISA and the OSA. These draconian laws have been used, more often than not, as political tools rather than instruments of national security. They create a climate of fear.

I ask you to join me in calling for the repeal of the Printing and Publications Act, and above all, the Universities and University Colleges Act. I don’t see how you can pursue your student activism with such freedom and support in the UK and Eire while forgetting that your brethren at home are deprived of their basic rights of association and expression by the UUCA. The UUCA has done immense harm in dumbing down our universities.

We must have freedom as guaranteed under our Constitution. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write, move. This is basic. Even on matters of race and even on religious matters we should be able to speak freely, and we shall educate each other.

It is time to realise the dream of Dato’ Onn and the spirit of the Alliance and of Tunku Abdul Rahman. That dream was one of unity and a single Malaysian people. They went as far as they could with it in their time. Instead of taking on the torch, we have reversed course. The next step for us as a country is to move beyond the infancy of race-based parties to a non-racial party system. Our race-based party system is the key political reason why we are a sick country, declining before our own eyes, with money fleeing and people telling their children not to come home after their studies.

So let us try to take 1Malaysia seriously. Millions have been spent putting up billboards and adding the term to every conceivable thing. We even have Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia. Can’t take a normal holiday anymore. This is all fine. Now let us see if it means anything. Let us see the government of the day lead by example. 1Malaysia is empty because it is propagated by a government supported by a racially-based party system that is the chief cause of our inability to grow up in our race relations. Our inability to grow up in our race relations is the chief reason why investors and we ourselves no longer have confidence in our economy. The reasons why we are behind Maldives in football, and behind the Philippines in FDI, are linked.

So let us take 1Malaysia seriously, and convert Barisan Nasional into a party open to all citizens. Let it be a multiracial party open to direct membership. Pakatan Rakyat will be forced to do the same or be left behind the times. Then we shall have the vehicles for a two party, non-race-based system.

If Umno, MIC or MCA are afraid of losing supporters, let them get their members to join this new multiracial party. Pakatan Rakyat should do the same. Nobody need feel left out. Umno members can join en masse. The Hainanese Kopitiam Owners Association can join whichever party they want, or both parties en masse if they like. We can maintain our cherished civil associations, however we choose to associate. But we drop all communalism when we compete for the ballot. When our candidates stand for elections, let them ever after stand only as Malaysians, for better or for worse.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Billy Collins is cool.

Writer Suet Fun introduced me to former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins I must say that his video readings got me hooked. Check him out and you'll see why New York Times calls him "The most popular poet in America" .

PS: I think these animated poetry make good learning tools too!

Forgetfulness is playful and wistful, and the video is perfectly matched to the reading. Love it!

Here's another one: Some Days

I love how a single moment or a fleeting thought is amplified in a few lines, stretched to encompass so much emotion.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yay! Anti-false news panel set up!

Well, looks like the 1 Malaysia Reading Campaign has yielded positive results.
The Home Ministry has set up a committee to formulate the government's communication strategy besides thwarting the dissemination of false news by irresponsible people.
Its minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the committee was also made up of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz and Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Selepas Tsunami: How March 8 changed Malaysia

One of the most commonly heard comments about Pakatan and the newly established opposition-held states was that 'nothing has changed.' Ever so often, the cynical sneer and say drains are still clogged, lights don't work, corruption is still rampant, etc, etc. If anyone rushes to the defense and say, 'but Pakatan has just come into power,' they inevitably dismiss it with sarcasm and tell you, if they can't get their act together now, how are they going to govern when they really are the federal government? And on and on it goes.

Well, 'nothing's' changed, and everything's changed.

This video bears out that while change comes slowly after 52 years of BN profligacy, the most important thing that has changed is the mindset - of both the governed, and those in government. In Pakatan held states, there is a commitment to transparency, to hear out the grievances of the rakyat, to reduce wastage, to address corruption and cronyism. All these are genuine attempts at being a government that is accountable.

I like that. I like that the foundation stones of sound and accountable governance is being addressed. It sounds rather abstract compared to bread and butter issues of taxes and schools, but hey, when we get the governance part done right the other stuff will follow. Besides, building up something good is always harder - takes longer, demands endurance, exacts a toll - than tearing down or destroying something. Especially when it is something as important as the foundation for a stronger and better Malaysia for all people.

Selepas Tsunami (After the Tsunami) from Pusat KOMAS on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Myanmar workers stand up and win

I thought this was an encouraging development in the defense of workers' rights.

26 ex-employees - all Myanmars - of Jogoya an upscale restaurant at Starhill successfully stood up against alleged unfair termination of employment and deductions made to their wages. Their plight was publicised back in March 9 when Malay Mail first broke the story that they were 'unlawfully fired' and given a week to move out of their quarters.
The 26 Myanmar workers who claimed to have been duped by their former employer, an upscale restaurant in Starhill Gallery here, finally had their demands met and will get to return home.

The Malay Mail learnt that negotiations between the workers and Jogoya Restaurant concluded last Wednesday and matters were settled amicably via intervention by the Federal Territories Labour Department and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

At the end of negotiations, held at the FT Labour office in Wisma Perkeso, Jalan Ampang, Jogoya management agreed to return all levies deducted from the workers’ salaries from April 1, 2009 up until last month.

With each worker’s monthly levy being RM150, total levies deducted for all 26 Myanmar workers for 11 months would have amounted to RM42,900.

Jogoya also agreed to pay the workers their full salaries for January and February 2010 as well as their service points for January, which were previously held back after the restaurant claimed poor performance by the workers.

Jogoya additionally provided full airfare tickets for the workers who had been with the restaurant for more than three years, and a RM250 airfare subsidy for those who worked under three years.
You can read all about it here at human rights activist Charles Hector's blog.

The same blog post also reported that MTUC secretary-general, G. Rajasekaran, expressed surprise that the Federal Territories Labour Department had had enterd negotiations with Jogoya Restaurant when legal action ought to have been initiated against them.

Meanwhile Malaysikini reports on Amnesty International's public statement on Malaysia's appalling treatment of migrant workers. The report said that many of the 2.2 million migrant workforce were "lured" here and "used in forced labour or exploited in other ways".
Amnesty also documented over a dozen cases in which Malaysian immigration officials allegedly handed over Myanmar detainees to traffickers operating on Malaysia's northern border with Thailand between 2006 and 2009.

"The Malaysian government has the responsibility to prevent such abuses, but instead facilitates trafficking through its loose regulation of recruitment agents and through laws and policies that fail to protect workers," it said.

More: New York Times - Report Says Migrants in Malaysia Face Abuse

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shift happens

There's so much drama in our part of the world it's easy to think it's a sign of life. Or progress. You wish. Shift happens. And unless we recognise it, the country will end up a footnote on the trash heap of history.

Here's a video to jolt your senses and and wake you to the big picture. A little old, first posted in 2007 when MySpace was er, cool - it's been forwarded like maybe a gazillion times now - but that's exactly the point. The world is not going to wait for Malaysia to get her act together..........

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Breaking the silence

Next to Vishal Mangalwadi's Truth and Transformation, this book by Sri Lankan scholar Vinoth Ramachnadra is a must-read. I'm just starting on Subverting Global Myths and already it's challenging some cherished ideas. It's a close-up look at real world politics and global myths that have with too many regurgitation assume an appearance of irrefutable fact with devastating consequences.

Subverting Global Myths is really quite different in tone and perspective compared to Truth and Transformation, but I prefer to see both as complementary voices to a better appreciation of the complexity of global issues.

I was particularly interested to read the chapter entitled, Myths of Religious Violence, in the light of our Malaysian experience. In that chapter, Ramachandra quotes the Hindu scholar from Trinidad Anantanand Rambachan who is currently teaching in a Christian college in the US:
"Communities on the other hand, which engage each other in a deep search for mutual understanding and which honestly acknowledge differences and cultivate respect are less likely to explode in times of conflict. Such communities are less likely to cite differences as a basis for hostility towards the other. I often wonder about this matter when we witness neighbours, in many recent conflicts, suddenly turning upon each other with ferocity and violence, shattering the veneer of civility and harmony."
Considering how those in authority continue to cite communal sensitivities as the reason to avoid dialogue, it seems we are prepared to live with superficial 'harmony' than genuine understanding. Yes, Malaysians are afraid of hard choices prefering denial to de truth.

Tragically, our 'betters' prefer lumpy carpets than mutual acceptance through continuing dialogue. May 13, race, royalty, religion, Allah, etc, we have a long list of taboos lurking in the shadow of 1 Malaysia. Rambachan also makes the observation that, "Communities where differences are real, but where they are minimized or downplayed, are most likely to suffer violence and traumatic upheavals when, in times of tension and conflict, such differences become prominent."

God knows plural Malaysia needs to talk to each other. Heaven knows we can no longer gloss over deep-seated differences and pretend silence is the price of tolerance.

(Read an interview where Vinoth Ramachandra talks about his book here.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't Let The Provocateurs Succeed

(Malaysiakini graphics)
This can't go on.

In every society there's a lunatic fringe that cannot differentiate pig-headed bigotry from civility. We cannot and dare not let these provocateurs cow us into ever narrow racism, sectarianism, and communalism. If these people win, Malaysia loses.

"The latest incidents today at the two mosques along Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur demonstrate how sick perpetrators of such acts can be and to what extent they are willing to go to cause hurt and harm to religious communities. Their end is to drive a wedge between religious communities in the country.

We who are law-abiding citizens must not allow them to succeed in their wicked mission.

Let us not speculate about the identities of the culprits until the police and the courts have done their work. Let us stand together and resist such people.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism condoles with Muslims, Christians and Sikhs whose places of worship and prayer have been so rudely desecrated."

MCCBCHST Statement

Friday, January 08, 2010

Muslim Profesionals Forum Condemns Church Arson


The cowardly and utterly senseless act of a group of misguided, chauvinistic bigots in torching at least three churches in the Klang Valley this morning must be condemned in no uncertain terms by all peace loving Malaysians.

This act of arson, committed presumably in the name of Islam desecrates the very religion it purports to protect. The Holy Quran unequivocally prohibits destroying the houses of worship of all religions, as warned in Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 40.

“… Had not Allah checked the excesses and aggression of one set of people by means of another, surely would be destroyed monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated …”

During the reign of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second righteous caliph, the religious freedom of the citizens of Ilya (Jerusalem) and the sanctity of their synagogues and places of worship were confirmed: “This is the protection which the slave-servant of Allah, Umar, the Commander of the Believers, extends to the people of Ilya: The safeguarding of their lives, properties, churches, crosses, and of their entire community. Their churches cannot be occupied, demolished, or damaged, nor are their crosses or anything belonging to them to be touched. They will never be forced to abandon their religion, nor will they be oppressed …” (At-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol III, p. 609, ed. Dar Al-Ma`arif, Egypt.)

In the light of these tragic turn of events, the Muslim Professionals Forum:

1. Demand the authorities to immediately conduct an impartial and thorough investigation to identify , apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this despicable violence lest the country spirals into a vicious cycle of retaliatory acts which would fracture the very fabric of Malaysian civil society.

2. Urge the authorities to either refuse or revoke the permit for the planned demonstration in order to contain the heightened emotions and sensitivities from among the Muslim quarters, angered by the recent high court decision on the usage of the word Allah.

3. Urge individuals, organisations and political parties to refrain from further issuing provocative and inflammatory statements related to the high court verdict.

4. Urge all Malaysians to emphatise and stand in solidarity with our Christian community in their hour of grief and need.

5. Urge all peace loving Malaysians to maintain composure and let cool heads prevail.

May Allah guide us all in this most troubling times.

Board of Directors
Muslim Professionals Forum

Dr. Mazeni Alwi
Dr. Shaikh Johari Bux
Haji Mohamed Ali Ghazali
Dr. Jeffrey Abu Hassan
Dato’ Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin


Address: 10, Jalan 11/9, Section 11, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Telephone: (03) 7957 1278, (03) 7957 146, Fax: (03) 7957 1457


The Christian Federation of Malaysia strongly and unreservedly condemns the violent attacks and attempted ones of fire-bombing several churches in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya in the early hours of this morning (8 January 2010).

We are against such actions that seek to intimidate people and also to rend the fabric of peace and goodwill in our country.

Thus far this afternoon, we have been informed that there were three torching and attempted torching of churches. The administrative office of Metro Tabernacle in Desa Melawati was completely gutted. The Molotov cocktail thrown at the Church of the Assumption along Jalan Templer in Petaling Jaya did not explode. But The Life Chapel in Section 17 Petaling Jaya suffered some damage to the church’s front
porch area.

We call on the Government and all peace-loving Malaysians to stand against such violence and not to give way to extremists in our midst who would want to throw our country into chaos.

We call on the police to continue to maintain the peace and security of our land in which all of us so cherish and love. May the police bring to justice quickly those who have been involved in such acts of torching churches which is a violation of the houses of God in our land.

Christians are a peace-loving people and so we will remain calm and rely on our police officers to investigate and to arrest the criminals involved and to protect all Malaysians against violence and criminal intimidation. We are concerned that the hacking of the judiciary website is an act of criminal intimidation against the judiciary and this shameful act along with the acts of violence against churches must not be condoned.

Let us as Christians and with our fellow Malaysians pray that despite such atrocious acts perpetrated upon the churches good sense will prevail in us. Let us not allow those who want to foment animosity among the peoples and the religious communities to triumph in their dastardly plans. May we stand together against the tide of violent people and their evil plans.

We will continue to pray for peace in Malaysia.

Bishop Ng Moon Hing

Chairman and the Executive Committee of the
Christian Federation of Malaysia
Dated: 8 January 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I am sipping coffee, reading Frederick Buechner.

Outside a storm appears to be brewing, as one UMNO minister after another pontificates over the right of Muslims to demonstrate against Justice Lau Bee Lan's okay to 'Allah' for non-Muslims (In the ongoing debate, it's conveniently forgotten that Sikhs too address God as 'Allah', and not just indigenous bumiputra Christians who only speak Bahasa).

For awhile, I forget that the world's not all right and that a cloud is descending over that ill-begotten PR-spun nonentity called 1 Malaysia.

There is a stirring inside as I think about recent events. As anxious as I am about the current turmoil, my mind is really regurgitating over the books I am currently reading and reflecting on: ex-missionary to the Congo, Helen Roseveare's testimony in Stand (John Piper/Justin Taylor) about the one thing that matters; Don Miller's essay on Isaiah's grim description of an ugly Jesus (Isa 53:2-3) in Searching For God Knows What; and Buechner's collection of sermons, Secrets in the Dark.

Buechner's essay (actually, a sermon) A Room Called Remember was deeply moving, and I was teary at several points. Yes, while one may be preoccupied with what's not right, the oughts and what ifs and what could have been, nothing focuses the mind more than when we remember what is:

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced...

I Chronicles 16:10-12